Easter Treats - Almond Muffins with Strawberry Chia Jam




Fancying something different to chocolate eggs this Easter? Give these a try! Super simple to make and they taste delish!

Recipe makes 12 muffins

Muffins:

300g Ground Almonds
300ml Full Fat Coconut Milk
2 Organic Free Range Eggs
1 Pinch Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
4tbsp Honey
1 Vanilla Pod, scraped

Jam:

200g Strawberries
3tbsp Chia Seeds
2tbsp Honey
1 Vanilla pod, scraped

Method

Preheat oven to 180c.
Mix the almonds, salt and baking soda in a bowl then mix the coconut milk, eggs, honey and vanilla pod into a separate bowl. 
Combine the two bowls and mix together well. 
Pour the mixture into the muffin holders making sure not to over fill as the mixture will rise when cooking. 
Bake for 20 mins.

While the muffins bake, blend the strawberries, honey and vanilla pod in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Pour into a bowl and add in the chia seeds. Let the mixture sit for 15 mins stirring every 5 mins until it thickens into a jam consistency.
Let the muffins cool on a wire rack once baked and then top them with the strawberry jam to serve.








Recipe courtesy of Seasonal Berries

Weleda Products Review



About a month ago now I had a bit of a mini Weleda haul while shopping on Naturisimo and decided to buy some products I had been wanting to try for a while. I love the ingredients and values of Weleda and this was the first time I had tried anything from their line. I've had so many questions from people wanting to know what I thought of these products and if I would recommend them so I figured I'd put all my reviews and opinions together here. Some great and some not so great, but always my honest opinion.




Reading the reviews of this product I was so excited to try it as I have been wanting a really moisturising body wash for ages and hadn't come across one that actually made much difference to my skin. I loved the smell of this, it's a very floral scent but not too overpowering and very subtly lingers on your skin after using it. When I first used it I noticed it was a really creamy formula which gave me high hopes for it's moisturising skills! This bottle lasted me about 3 weeks and during that time I did notice that my skin felt a lot softer but in terms of dryness I didn't see a massive difference. I did find that I was still having to moisturise my skin just as frequently as when I was using other body washes. So, slightly disappointing in that sense but overall I do think it's a lovely product, the scent is yummy and it will make your skin feel more silky!




Body moisturiser is honestly the bane of my life as I suffer from dry, sensitive skin and always try to use the most natural products I can find. I am forever on a quest for a gentle, natural moisturiser but one that works miracles on dry skin. Let me tell you the quest ain't an easy one. This lotion however did come close to being my favourite find! It says that it is a particularly mild formula for sensitive and irritable skin and it restores the skins natural PH balance while providing long lasting moisture. I can actually say that this was one of the nicest moisturisers I have ever used, the smell is very mild and almost reminds me of coconut milk. I didn't expect the consistency to be as liquidy as it was, as I usually opt for a creamier body butter but figured I'd give it a go. I liked using this straight after a shower and after using the Weleda Creamy Body Wash as the combination really did leave my skin feeling dreamy. The only down side to this product was that I didn't find it long lasting. The day after using it I couldn't tell that I had moisturised at all, I was having to use it everyday to keep up with my dry skin and I prefer something longer lasting so I'm not having to use it everyday. I don't know, maybe I'm just being too fussy? All in all I would definitely recommend it but do bare in mind you may need to use it everyday.




Skin Food. You odd little product. I bought this not really knowing where I could use it even though it does say on the tube "whole body cream". I assumed that it would be fine to use as an all over body moisturiser and maybe even a little on my face. So, after my shower one evening I decided to give it a try, opening the product the first thing I noticed was the distinct smell. It's quite a difficult scent to describe but the only way I can think of is a very VERY strong lime medicinal smell? In any case, not what I was expecting at all. The second thing I noticed was how thick the formula was, I'm not talking cream/butter here but more of a very thick salve. Anyway I went ahead and applied it all over my body and within about 20-30 minutes was feeling very ill and faint. The smell was honestly that strong that I was dizzy, light headed and feeling very sick. After half an hour I couldn't stand it any longer and had to jump back in the shower and scrub it all off my skin. It actually took 2 showers to really get rid of it and I noticed the swirly film of grease it left in the water. I couldn't figure it out, maybe it's not meant to be used all over the body, I honestly don't know. But what I find even more confusing is how many people love this product! It was recommended to me by about 5 different people and I had seen it featured in numerous magazines. A week after my first failed attempt I decided to try using a very tiny amount on some particularly dry patches of skin I had on my temples near my hairline. It worked quite well but still the smell and thick greasy formula was just not for me. Sorry Weleda!




I love the idea of a bath milk and was so excited to try this, particularly because I was using it for the first time in a very luxurious bath while staying in a gorgeous spa hotel. I wanted to try this right before going to bed in the hope that it would send me straight to sleep and leave me feeling super relaxed. Never having used a bath milk before I had no idea how much I was supposed to use so ended up going slightly overboard and poured in almost half the bottle. Very indulgent indeed! The milk smells so good! Just like lavender essential oil and it did feel so relaxing and soft on my skin. Whether it was a coincidence or not I did feel very calm and slept like a baby that night so I'm guessing it did the trick. I can imagine this would be the perfect antidote after a long day at work or at the end of a stressful week to take a long hot bath and indulge as a treat. I can't wait to use this again, I'm saving it for when I'm really in need of some relaxation time, I just won't use half the bottle again next time!

As always thanks for reading and I hope this has given you a better idea for your Weleda purchasing decisions.

Homemade Hummus Recipe


If like me you are obsessed with Hummus then I highly recommend you make your own as you can have full control over the taste and texture. Even better it takes only 5 minutes and saves you buying store bought ones in nasty packaging!

Ingredients makes 1 Jar:

1 400g tin Chickpeas drained
1 tbsp Tahini
4 tbsp Olive Oil
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp Water
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 tsp Cumin
Salt


Method:

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Store in the fridge in an air tight container for up to a week.




New Year Thoughts & Packaging Challenge


 It's a new year and a new post! I thought for a while about what my first post of 2018 could be, something super positive and motivational about new beginnings etc to kick start the new year? That's what I guess a lot of people would expect but to be honest the whole "New Year New Me" thing doesn't really do it for me. I prefer to start my year with a few ideas in mind and take my time over January to really think about the previous year and what really matters to me that I would like to work on for the year ahead.

So, no motivational speeches here I'm afraid, but possibly a few ideas that might help you think about what you would like to achieve or work on this year if you are still feeling unsure. For me, goals are not just a yearly task to set and achieve within a certain time frame, I prefer to work through mine at my own pace, alter or add goals as needed and I find it much more helpful to monitor my progress simply by how I feel. 

This might all sound a bit vague but I think gauging the progress of goals by how you feel is the best way to make sure you're heading in the right direction for you and it also allows you to really know if you are working on something that's important to you.



One of the main things I plan on working on this year is my relationships with friends and family. This is something that 10 years ago I wouldn't have even given a thought to, but over time (and through getting older!) I've started to realise this is something that's really important to me. Now I'm not saying that I have any bad relationships with friends or family at all, in fact all of them are great, but what I'm looking to work on is spending that bit more time together, going the extra mile for loved ones and really strengthening some relationships that are special to me. I'm genuinely so excited for this one, it's been something I've been thinking about the past couple of years and I'm so glad that I'm now in a place where I can really focus on making relationships even more meaningful.

The second goal I have in mind is to work on confidence- an ever long struggle of mine since the age of 4, throw in some confidence shattering college tutors along the way, a surprise bout of anxiety in my uni days and I have quite the task on my hands. But that's ok, I have a few plans up my sleeve and some methods in mind of ways to really start working on it this year. One of which is to stop judging myself so much and so harshly, and to not give myself a hard time on days when I feel less confident. I'm learning that nobody feels 100% confident every single day and it's completely normal for it to fluctuate, I just want to learn to roll with that and remind myself each day.



My next goals are some simpler ones that won't take as much work but will be really rewarding in the long run:

  • Reminding myself to be grateful for what I have - this one is starting to become an automatic thought for me most days and at the simplest of times, like when I'm eating some amazing food or getting into a warm cosy bed at night. Sometimes it can be easy to forget about these things, but it makes all the difference when you start noticing them.

  • Focussing on the positives of each day - this is a tricky one! When I've had a bad day I'm the queen of dwelling, dramatising and feeling miserable. But I've realised that this just makes me feel so much worse. A trick I've started doing is to tell myself (and other people) that I had a good day, even if it was terrible and all I want to do is hibernate in my bed and only resurface for food deliveries, I say "I had a great day" (usually in a sarcastic voice but that's something to work on another day). Also, I now try and take it one step further, and think about one thing that was ok or possibly even good about my day. It could be the tiniest of things, the traffic was ok on my commute, a friend sent me a nice message, the canteen lunch menu had an actual tasty AND healthy option, you get my point? Sometimes it just takes that one little thing to remind me that ok, maybe my day wasn't so bad.

  • Try out new forms of exercise - this is a fun one! So already I go to pilates and yoga classes every week, and I love them but really want to try something new and something that will challenge me in different ways. The first thing I've decided to try is spinning, I've never been to a spin class before and will admit I'm feeling slightly intimidated by what others have told me. Fast paced, no break, bum in the air cycling with a strict and shockingly vocal instructor. I'm half worried and half really excited, my first class will be sometime in February so I will report back after then. The next thing I'm also going to start is climbing. I have a fairly local climbing centre that I've been to once before so I've decided to revisit and really put some effort into making it a regular thing. This will definitely be challenging and a serious skill to work on but something I'm really looking forward to. 


Last but by no means least, I have decided to set myself a challenge for February. More and more recently I am learning about the effects of pollution on the environment and how non recyclable plastic packaging is playing a massive part in everything from pollution to contamination, injuring and even killing animals. I have seen so much more about it in the news lately and it seems that people including the government are actually starting to take notice and put plans in place to make a change, whether or not it's too late only time will tell. 

As someone who has avoided plastic packaging for some time now (for more of a food safety aspect), I started to look at the plastic packaging I had on other things like cosmetics, shampoos, shower gels etc and was really shocked to realise they weren't recyclable. It's honestly been playing on my mind so much that I decided to set myself the challenge to go plastic free for a month to see what other options are available and if they are easy enough to get hold of.

For all of February I will be making sure anything I buy whether it's clothes, food, or cosmetics will have either recyclable, biodegradable or better still, no packaging at all. I'm really interested to see what I can find and I'm really hoping there are some hidden gems of planet friendly packaging out there. If you would like to see how I get on along the way I'll be sharing the journey on my instagram



So there you have it, my recent life ponderings and current goals. Hopefully this has given you a few ideas of things you might like to work on for yourself this year or even just to bare in mind that goals don't need to be set in stone and monitored regimentally. See how you feel, if something doesn't feel right then spend some time thinking of ways to start changing it and just take it from there. 

Let me know what ideas you have for things in your life to work on, I would love to know!

As always thank you so much for reading, hope you enjoyed the post!


P.s) So much for this not being a motivational speech!


Skincare Favourites of 2017


Happy New Year! I hope you're having the best start to 2018 and hopefully not feeling too worse for wear today after last night's celebrations. Before starting any new posts of the year I really wanted to do a quick round up of my favourite skincare products that I used/discovered in 2017. These products may not have been necessarily new but it was the first time that I had used them and loved them so much I wanted to make sure I gave them a mention on here.

Sukin Certified Organic Rose Hip Oil


I've used Rose Hip oils in the past and loved them but as I wasn't able to get hold of the brand I usually used, I decided to give this one a go. I'm not sure if this was a slightly bigger bottle than what I was used to but I found that this oil seemed to last me a lot longer and a little went a long way. Rose Hip Oil - especially organic is an absolute miracle worker for your skin. Packed with vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, it can help to repair damaged tissue and regenerate skin cells, which makes it perfect for scars and stretch marks! I tend to use this around my hips and thighs for my stretch marks and then sometimes add a few drops to my normal body moisturiser for extra hydration. I definitely recommend this if you have dry/damaged skin.




If you are thinking of switching some of your skincare products for natural alternatives then please please start with your deodorant. You only have to google the words conventional antiperspirant to see the amount of research and evidence explaining the dangers and risks involved with using them, it's down right scary and completely unnecessary. I have been using natural deodorants for about 18 months now and I would never go back to a conventional antiperspirant. I have tried quite a few different ones so far and I like to regularly change them up so that my body doesn't get too used to one. My two favourites have been Neal's Yard Remedies and the one I have featured here, Schmidt's. This deodorant has been my favourite scent so far and I love the creamy texture of the stick, it's so moisturising and leaves your skin feeling soft. There have been a few natural deodorants I've tried in the past that irritated my skin especially if they contained large amounts of baking soda/arrowroot, and although this one does contain some arrowroot I haven't had any irritation at all, even when using it straight after shaving! 




Typically I'm a strict coconut oil user to cleanse my face and remove make up as it works brilliantly and leaves your skin moisturised. However, I do often find myself needing something extra to cleanse a bit deeper into my skin and for this reason I decided to try the Sukin Sensitive Cleansing Gel. Usually I'm not a fan of this kind of product as my skin tends to dry out after using them but I find that if I use this gel around 3 times a week while sticking to the coconut oil routine in-between then my skin feels even more fresher than normal and still nicely hydrated. I love how the gel is suited for sensitive skin and is also paraben and sulphate free. 




Balance Me is a really nice brand that I have used before but cannot for the life of me remember what products it was I tried before this one! But anyway, the radiance mask is a really lovely product that I like to use 2-3 times a week to keep my skin feeling soft and smooth. Considering it's a face mask it doesn't give you that tight dry mud mask feeling like conventional face masks, and it's actually a lot more like a creamy moisturiser. The mask smells heavenly and contains tiny shell particles that very gently exfoliate your skin without drying or irritating, which is really important for my skin. I only leave the mask on for about a minute and then use a warm damp muslin cloth to remove it. It leaves you feeling like you've had a mini midweek spa treatment.




I saved the best for last... I love, love, love this little face oil! Hence why, as you can now see the bottle is empty and I need to replace it asap. I was sent a sample of this amazing product by Love Lula, (thanks guys!) and it was the first time I had heard of Ooh! I later found out that it actually stands for Oils Of Heaven, which is perfectly named as this oil is so heavenly! I wasn't too sure about using an oil as a moisturiser thinking that it would be heavy and most likely impossible to use underneath make up, but oh how wrong I was! It's extremely lightweight and honestly the most moisturising product I have used on my skin. Also, I tried it underneath my make up and it worked perfectly, not breaking up my foundation at all. I used this every night for a few weeks and each morning my skin looked incredible, the surface was completely soft and smooth and my complexion had even improved. If you are looking for a new face moisturiser and want to try something a little different I would definitely recommend this product.


So there we have it, a round up of my favourite skincare products of 2017. I hope this has been insightful and inspiring for a more natural way to care for your skin, and given you some ideas of great products to try. Thanks so much for reading and I will hopefully see you back here again soon!

Festive Mulled Wine Recipe



For me, there really isn't a more festive drink than mulled wine. It always reminds me of Christmas markets and getting cosy in front of an open fire. I love the flavours, the smell and it even looks delicious and festive! This year I decided to make my own version and although I'm not a big drinker I have made the alcoholic version rather than non alcoholic. There are some great recipes online for non alcoholic mulled wine but it is just a really simple swap - use a berry fruit juice in place of the wine, and voila! This recipe is also quite versatile so feel free to play around with the quantities to suit your own preferred taste. 



Ingredients (Serves 2)

250ml Red Wine
2 Large Slices of Orange
2 Cinnamon Sticks
4 Star Anise
5 Cloves
2 tsp Honey/Maple Syrup
Sprinkle of Vanilla Powder

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and heat for a few minutes making sure it doesn't bubble or boil. Pour through a strainer and serve. Feel free to add the orange slices, cinnamon sticks or star anise for the finishing touch. Enjoy!




Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup


Halloween has been and gone, but afterwards I was wondering what to do with the pumpkins I had left over. It seemed only right to make good use of them and so I decided to make a pumpkin soup. Having never made this before I was worried it might turn out to be a disaster but actually it is probably the best soup I have made so far and a lot easier than I thought it would be. Below is the list of ingredients I used followed by the method.

Ingredients

1 small pumpkin
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1tsp Turmeric Powder
1tsp Paprika Powder
1-2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp Honey
Pinch of Chilli Flakes
Pinch of Coriander
Drizzle of Oil
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 180c (fan)

Cut the pumpkin into quarters and scoop out the middle discarding the stringy flesh but keeping the seeds to one side.

Using a potato peeler remove the skin from the sections of pumpkin, then cut the pumpkin into cubes.

Place the cubes of pumpkin on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and roast for 30-40 mins.

Once cooked leave the pumpkin to cool for a few minutes before adding it to a food processor along with 1\2 cup of coconut milk and blend together.

Place the pumpkin seeds on a tray and roast in the oven for 10-15 mins.

Pour the pumpkin and coconut milk blend into a saucepan and add the remaining ingredients, heat on a low light stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds and coriander over the soup to serve.


Hope you like the recipe and enjoy the soup as much as I did. I still have 2 pumpkins left so will be cooking up another recipe soon! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the post!